Nathaniel Jones

Nathaniel JonesClubbed to death by Cincinnati Police

by 4WardEver UK
originally published 29 April 2007

Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Nathaniel Jones died after being clubbed repeatedly by officers in a videotaped beating that raised new claims of police brutality in Cincinnati, nearly three years after the Ohio City was rocked by riots. The mayor of the city claimed that the videotape showed that the baton-wielding officers were defending themselves.

The cause of Nathaniel Jones’ death was investigated but preliminary autopsy results showed that the 41-year-old man, who weighed 25 stone, had an enlarged heart, and his blood contained cocaine and PCP, or “angel dust”, both of which could cause bizarre or aggressive behaviour, Hamilton County Coroner Carl Parrott said.

Two black community activists said Jones’ death was another example of brutality by Cincinnati police. The fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer in April 2001 set off three nights of rioting. “How many of our people have to die before the city decides to do something about it?” said Nathaniel Livingston, of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati.

The videotape from a police cruiser’s camera showed two white police officers landing at least a half dozen blows with their “nightsticks” on Jones and tackling him, while shouting at him to put his hands behind his back. But the tape also showed Jones lunging at one of the officers.

The officers who were at the scene – five whites and one black – were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

After seeing the video, Mayor Charlie Luken rejected activists’ demand that he force Police Chief Thomas Streicher to resign. “What I saw was a 400-pound man violently attacking a police officer in a manner that put the lives of police officers at risk,” Luken said. “While the investigations will continue, there is nothing on those tapes to suggest that the police did anything wrong.”

Civil rights activist the Rev Jesse Jackson, said he wanted state and federal authorities to investigate. “Police officers have options available to immobilise citizens short of death,” Jackson said.  Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez was quoted as saying: “We’re in the process of gathering information and evidence to determine whether any federal action is warranted.”

An employee at a fast-food restaurant had called police early on Sunday to report that a man had passed out on the grass outside. Emergency crews arrived and reported that the man was awake and “becoming a nuisance”, according to police radio transmissions. The first two officers to arrive, Baron Osterman and James Pike, were shown on the video striking Jones after he ignored orders to “stay back”, took a swing at an officer and put his arm around an officer’s neck.

Jones then fell forward on to the officer as the two momentarily went out of the camera’s field of view. The officers knocked Jones to the ground and fell on him, and jabbed or struck him with nightsticks at least a dozen times over several minutes until he was handcuffed. They kept yelling: “Put your hands behind your back!” as they struggled to handcuff him. In the clip Jones can be heard pleading and calling out for his mother.

Additional police officers arrived. They rolled Jones on to his back and one officer was heard saying: “He’s still got a pulse. I don’t see him breathing.” Officers called for an ambulance but Jones died within minutes of arriving at the hospital, Assistant Chief Richard Janke said.

Black activist groups staged an economic boycott of Cincinnati after the 2001 shooting of Timothy Thomas, 19, who was wanted on charges of fleeing police. Officer Stephen Roach shot him in a dark alley and was later cleared at trial of criminal charges.

A federal investigation of that shooting, requested by the city, resulted in a 2002 agreement by the city to tighten policies regarding use of force and to improve handling of citizen complaints against the police.


Follow-up News:

Cincinnati police beat unarmed black man to death
3 December 2003

Police video shows US officers fatally beating black man
2 December 2003

US man dies in taped police fight
2 December 2003

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